When Courtney Blankenship was around nine years old, she discovered she had a passion for learning about Egypt and North Africa.

Following graduation in May, that childhood passion is becoming her full-time focus for the next two years: following a trip to the Middle East, she’ll be headed to Morocco, where she’ll work as a Youth Development Specialist for the Peace Corps.

“It’s an area of the world with rich historical significance, cultural beauty, and hardworking people, but it’s also an area that is sometimes very misunderstood.” – Courtney Blankenship

“It’s an area of the world with rich historical significance, cultural beauty, and hardworking people, but it’s also an area that is sometimes very misunderstood,” she said.

It may be thousands of miles away from Pittsburg State, but her experiences here have prepared her: she served as PSU’s Student Ambassador for the Peace Corps, volunteered with a diverse group of international students on campus, was an officer in Student Government Association, and was the creator and organizer of the first TEDxPittsburgStateUniversity with the theme, “Diversity in Our World.”

“And, I already know some Arabic,” she said. “I’ve been working hard to be able to communicate well.”

Blankenship took advantage of Pittsburg State’s flat rate tuition to earn two degrees in three years — bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Political Science —  as well as a certificate in International Knowledge and Experience. She will be working in a Dar Chabab, or House of Youth, to implement after-school programs and teach English.

Blankenship grew up in Pratt, Kansas, with parents who were both administrators.

“I want to make a difference, I’m passionate, and I’m determined to make it work, whatever it is I’m doing,” she said.